Despite being just a first-year program, the Ridgway Christian School Eagles were able to make it to the state championship for the Arkansas Association of Christian Schools.
Unfortunately, the Eagles were completely manhandled by their rival Southwest Christian Academy due to RCS’ lack of strength.
Head coach Trent Young hopes to change that this season.
“What we are looking for is better strength,” Young said. “We have been working all summer long on our strength.
“That is what really hurt us in the championship game last year.”
Ridgway finished the year with a record of 5-2 at the senior high level and was undefeated in junior high.
“We were real blessed to have a real good group of ninth-graders that had some talent,” Young said. “They played both senior high and junior high and their presence made a difference.”
In the state championship, Ridgway competed well but ultimately SCA’s strength paid off.
“We knew then what we had to do was increase our strength and get stronger in the offseason,” Young said. “We are hoping that will be a plus for us this year.
“We are in better shape than we were this time last year.”
Working on improving a team’s overall strength requires a weight program and RCS lucked into one this summer after the purchase of St. Joseph.
“They had a weight room intact here,” Young said. “So I bought a few weights but not many. That helped us a lot in the weight room.”
The Eagles have also spent some time pulling sleds and pushing tires to try to improve their leg strength.
“Several of them have made some real good jumps in size and strength,” Young said. “Overall, the ones that are key players on offense and defense have made significant gains in strength.
“We will continue that throughout the season and try to maintain what we got.”
Young said the team was “blessed” to go as far as they did last year and he hopes he can repeat that kind of success this fall.
“We still have a ways to go and we are still basically a young team,” Young said. “But overall, the ones that needed to improve in certain areas have made some improvements.”
Two key players for Ridgway this season will be returning sophomores Cody and Jacob Andersen. The twins play multiple positions including quarterback, tailback and ends. Cody led the team in rushing last season and his brother Jacob was second on the team.
Cody and Jacob also play basketball and baseball at Ridgway.
“We encourage all our kids to play whatever sport they can,” Young said. “It is just going to make you a better athlete and most of those ninth-graders play multiple sports.
“It does help in the long run.”
Other key returners include Ezra Tole, who led the team in tackles, and fullback Jacob Dedman.
“They are blessed with some talent,” Young said. “We are excited about the season.”
Ridgway will play with just eight players on the field and will run mostly out of the I- and pro-formations.
“We are working very hard to sanction our passing game,” Young said. “We want to establish the run first to supplement the passing game.
“Basically take what the defense gives you. We have three running backs and the twins can flip flop at quarterback.
“We got a lot of depth this year.”
Ridgway will open the season against SCA, and Young said there is definitely some motivation for that game.
“That’s what they’ve been talking about since the championship game last year,” Young said. “SCA lost some good seniors, but (that coach will) reload.
“We are hoping that it will be a much better ballgame than it was in the championship game.
“We didn’t compete as hard as we should have or could have, but they also know why we didn’t. Ultimately, it came down to strength.”